he was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year. he was a critic of president trump and continued to play an active role in politics until very recently. on his first official visit to ireland, pope francis has met survivors of abuse by members of the roman catholic church. among them was a prominent survivor of sexual abuse by a priest in the 1960s, and at least two people born in homes for unmarried mothers. hundreds of venezuelans have been allowed into peru just hours after the country said any venezuelan crossing the border would need a passport. a senior official in one border town said they were requesting refugee status. many had travelled with an identity card only and were stranded at the border. now on bbc news, in a change to our scheduled programme, we are showing an edition of hardtalk from 2012, when stephen sackur interviewed senatorjohn mccain.
can the republican party find a presidential candidate capable of turfing barack obama out of office? well, the battle for the republican nomination is proving to be protracted and brutal, but right now the main beneficiary appears to be the man already inside the white house. my guest today is senatorjohn mccain, who ran against obama and lost four years ago. is the struggle to find a convincing presidential nominee indicative of a republican party that has lost its way? senatorjohn mccain, welcome to hardtalk.
thank you, i am happy to be here, and our relationship goes all the way back to the year 2000. you haven't aged a bit. (laughter). that is the first untruth you have told. let's get down to business and talk about the republican nomination process. to quote the esteemed political science professor, larry sabbato, the republican party is making its nomination progress "a big mess". do you agree? i do, to a significant degree. i think we have had too many debates. the purpose of debates is for the candidates to give their views on the issues and their positions. if they differ, then there would be a conversation. there were exceptions to that, but generally speaking
it was about issues. now it is about who can launch the toughest attack on the other. that is not educational or informational, and it also drives up the unfavourable image of all of them. it does indeed. let's talk about the man who you have endorsed for the nomination, mitt romney. i learned that he has already spent more on attack ads than you did in the whole of your presidential campaign in 2008. why is that? i think one reason is, thanks to the worst decision in history by the united states supreme court, they have unleashed a tidal wave of money, special interest money in this campaign — you may have seen... sure, but he has the choice of being positive or negative, but mitt romney, he thinks he can only win the republican nomination by being extremely brutal and negative. because the sad truth of american
politics is that negative ads move numbers. that is the reality of american politics. the day that they don't move numbers will be the day that politicians stop using them. i have learned a new acronym, abi — "anyone but romney". why is he not connecting with republican voters? i have had several republicans say this. —— i have heard several republicans say this. he seems to have passions of the job, he ran in 2008 and is coming back again. why is hejust job, he ran in 2008 and is coming back again. why is he just not connecting with the voters? i think he is connecting, he got 50% of the vote in florida, the first really diverse, heavily populated state. he did extremely well in new hampshire. in all the rest he did very, very badly. his performance was actually
worse than when he ran against you in 2008. i think as far as percentage of the vote, it is much higher than it was in 2008. all i can tell you is that i know there is a certain segment of the republican party — not a large one — but a segment of the republican party, that won't believe he is "conservative" enough. the thing that is entertaining about that is that both newt gingrich and rick santorum engaged in this obscene practice of earmarking hundreds of millions of dollars — in pork barrel earmarked spending, which, according to my colleagues — that is a gateway to corruption — and they are calling him conservative? but if you are going to make an argument for mitt romney about the political money, that is more of a problem. mitt romney has more political money sloshing around in his campaign —— mitt romney has more political money sloshing around in his campaign
than anyone else, he is the only candidate who is a real—time millionaire who only pays 13% tax. let's not mix apples and oranges here. earmarking is the taxpayers‘ money. romney's money is his own money. sure, but if you are making the money argument in support of mitt romney, it seems to me you have to address this issue that the american public has seen that this is a man who is unbelievably wealthy, but he stores a lot on his own cash in the cayman islands and switzerland. well corcy didn't. —— well of course he didn't. some of the investments that he has made did put the money there, but he has never done that directly. he has the experience, the knowledge, the background of a human who is going to lead the country, that is why i endorsed him. is that the case, do you believe, looking back at your own experience, do believe that it is very difficult to actually win the republican nomination and maintain policies, policy positions, that can appeal to the wider, general american electorate?
.ido not . i do not like to take trips down memory lane. but george w bush was able to do it twice. he did it by a narrow margin. but he was elected. ronald reagan was elected. today is changing, changing fast. it is becoming more dominated by the social conservatives. i don't think so, i think mitt romney proved in florida there is a very large number of republicans who are centrist—to—conservative. again, i challenge the attacks on romney for him now being conservative enough. he is in favour of lower taxes, less government, less regulation... you said of mitt romney, you clearly and adamantly said, this guy is "a phoney and a thief". (laughter). —— this guy is "a phoney
and a serial flip—flopper." (laughter). you know, if you look back at president reagan and then george bush and their campaigns, tough things are said. sure, but you called him a phoney. many republicans think he is a phoney now. frankly, that is the rhetoric of a heated campaign. and 99% of the dialogue we had was respectful. i would say, after i won the nomination, nobody worked harder for me than mitt romney during my nomination. what we are seeing right now, and i'm thinking of the recent successes of rick santorum that these "values issues" are rising to the top of the debate. issues concerning gay marriage, abortion, issues where, again, mitt romney appears to be neutral. those issues stay in the debate, but please do not be under the illusion of what american people care about. they care aboutjobs and the economy. the country is in trouble. there may be discussions about those issues which may attract a certain electorate, but in poll after poll,
90% of the american people say the number one issue is jobs and the economy. that is why i think mitt romney has the best opportunity to be our nominee. 0ne one final thought about your own career. do you now regret making sarah palin your vice—presidential running mate? did it open the doors to a whole bunch of social conservatives who now appear to be influential in your party? let me just say that facts are stubborn things. the fact is that before i picked sarah palin, we were running behind. after she gave her speech, we were ahead. we stayed ahead until the day the stock market went down 700 points. we went from three points up to seven points down. sarah palin gave us a momentum that no other person could have achieved. she energised the republican party.
she has been trashed by the media, she has been assaulted, continuously, by the media. she defeated joe biden, a united states senator in the debate... a senator, everything you have said... —— but senator, everything you have said... the fact is that she is still very much admired and appreciated by our party. i feel the passion in that answer, but it didn't directly address my question. do you regret it? of course not, of course not. i don't know why i should. you looked then, and you appear now, to be quite frank, to be out of sync with sarah palin's brand of republicanism. she says that the republican establishment, to use her phrase, is trying to "crush" newt gingrich. sarah andi sarah and i never agreed on that. nor did sarah and i never agreed on that. nordidi sarah and i never agreed on that. nor did i expect to. after all, she is her own person. i believe that she stands up for the things she believes in. 0n almost everything we agree, but sometimes
we disagree, that's all. you know, the myth is being conveyed out there that somehow she was harmful to our chances of winning the 2008 election. that is not substantiated by the facts. let's talk about the economy because you said that is what americans really want to talk about. yes, yes. what americans have seen in the last few weeks is, at last, some real signs of good news. in january, they almost 250,000 newjobs created, unemployment down to 8.3%. it is good news. good news, and is it not the case that this could help barack obama and make the republican case much more difficult? it depends on the trends, obviously. when you talk about the economy, i don't care who is elected. i think we will make the argument that this has been the longest and the weakest recovery in the history since the great depression.
if we passed a stimulus package they said unemployment would be down to six by now. we are now $5 trillion more in debt than we were when he came into office. we have fundamental differences of opinion. he believes that government creates jobs, we believe business creates jobs. 0ne real specific difference now is on tax, the democrats are pushing to extend the payroll tax deductions, the republicans say that can't happen unless there are some cuts in entitlement at the same time to square the budget. the republicans also seem to be the party that is determined to maintain tax cuts for the richest americans. it seems a difficult place for your party to be — opposing tax cuts for the working class and the middle class, favouring them for the rich. yes, i think that is conventional wisdom that you articulated, but the facts are that we would
like to pay for these tax cuts. we think the government is big enough — reducing the size of government, not entitlements, but government so that we are not increasing the national debt and we are not taking money out of the social security trust fund. otherwise that money would be going into that trust fund, which everyone knows is going broke. the final point on domestic politics, and never want to move overseas. —— the final point on domestic politics, and then i want to move overseas. the most basic question is this — you know mitt romney can win the white house. if the republican party does not select him, and there is a surprise new candidate, do you believe the republicans cannot win? i believe it will be much harder. all of the polling data shows that. mitt romney either ties, or is slightly behind, depending on what poll you look at. and the others are way behind too.
rick santorum, conceivably... i have to believe the polling data. are you saying they can't win? no, i am saying it would be much more difficult according to the polling data, which is well known. it is much more difficult, but not impossible. would you support newt gingrich or rick santorum? sure. sure, i would support the nominee of my party. let's move on to national security issues. 0k. you have been very critical of obama in recent months on a host of national security challenges facing the united states. it seems to me from iraq to afghanistan to libya, barack obama has pursued strategies that have the support of a clear majority of the american people. and i am sure that there are other times in this country's history and your country's history when people have stood up for what they know is right, even though it is not happening. -- it —— it has been unpopular.
the american people are glad we are out of iraq. we had a president once called harry truman. everybody wanted out of korea, but we stayed and the world is a better place for having made that sacrifice and the stubbornness on the part of harry truman. the fact is that the president said in his campaign that he would get out of iraq. we are out of iraq. do you know what the situation is there? it is unravelling. you think it would be better if the americans were still there? everybody knows we should have left a residual force of some 20,000 and that is what condoleezza rice said that we had contemplated. i know, from being there, that the iraqi people would have agreed to that. i know that because i was there. 0n afghanistan, for example, you have clearly been deeply critical of leon panetta, the defence secretary... his latest line, that combat forces may well be out by 2018. are you suggesting that if combat forces stay there indefinitely, that somehow afg hanistan's problems would be solved? the president overruled
his military advisers when he accelerated the withdrawal. the president of the united states overruled his military advisers when he sent 30,000 men instead of 40,000 in the initial buildup. and the president of the united states is overruling his military advisers when he is making the decision to come out in 2013. these are the people that the president appoints. some of the best and brightest motte —— brightest minds in america. he has no knowledge or experience on these issues. he is displaying this on a regular basis. let's talk about syria. as we speak, more people are dying in syria. the un secretary—general has talked about the brutality that has been inflicted on the people by the assad regime. you have suggested the us should be looking at different options in response.
you have alluded to the arming of syrian rebels. do you think that would help resolve this situation? do you really know what the iranians are doing right now? they are not noly bringing in weapons and artillery that are killing civilians but the iranians themselves have come into syria while the bloodshed is going on. what should be states do? —— the united states. it should be examining all of the options, with other countries including turkey, on how we can help these people stop this massacre. to be clear, do you want us arms to be sent out to the rebels in syria? that is an option that cannot be taken off the table. there is no un sanction on going into syria like there was with libya. isn't that fundamentally important? isn't that fundamentally important? isn't it fundamentally important to you to understand who is preventing that? it is china and russia
that have vetoed this. that does not change the reality that the un does not give its backing. shall we let china and russia determine whether we will allow the massacre of innocent women and children? the arab league is taking a stance. turkey is going to be important. we need to have a coalition of the willing. 0ur secretary of state has suggested that. we have to give them medical help and technical help. the turks are giving them centuries. there are lots of things we can do. the fundamental answer is — the us is not a nation that stands by and watches the massacre of innocent people. i understand but it seems to me that on a range of points you are envisaging another round of us intervention. of of one sort or another. let's talk about iran.
you say they may be doing significant things inside syria. the fact is the us president faces a difficult and big decision on iran, which may have to be taken this year. is it your view the time has come for the us to take military action in iran? no. but i agree with the president who says that an iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable. that is our president's viewpoint. this brings us back to the republican race. all of the candidates have suggested that president obama has not been strong enough in his language and approach to iran. of course not. he is leading from behind. when rick santorum said the other day... let me finish. in 2009, injune, there was an election in tehran. 1.5 million people were demonstrating in the streets. we watched a young woman bleed to death in the streets.
the people were chanting, president obama, are you with us or with them? he did not give them a word of encouragement. i do not think he would agree with that. it is a fact. no one denies it. you know full well that the white house denies that. they do not deny that. the fact is they did not. the point is, what would the world expect from a republican administration? these are the words of rick santorum. he said, "we have to take their nuclear facility out to prevent a wider war." is that the sort of mindset we should expect? that is one person's view. president obama has said it is unacceptable for iran to have nuclear weapons. so the question is, when do you reach a point when decisions have to be made? will those decisions be made by the israeli government or us and the israelis?
the sanctions have hurt them but not are not deterring them on the course they are on. a final thought which wraps up the debate about this international challenge. you have made a stand against the obama administration's plan to cut military spending by half a trillion dollars. you have said that will endanger us interests. is it not also dangerous to go on spending on the military in a way that stacks up a completely unaffordable debt for your grandchildren? there are savings efficiencies that can be activated. i have proposed many of those. we are working to adjust some of the reductions that the previous secretary of defence ordered, which we are enacting. you have suggested some changes but the significant changes that
president obama has proposed — losing 100,000 ground troops, phasing out a whole bunch of warships, maybe closing some of the military bases — these are seen to be frankly a sensible recognition that the world is changing and the threats have changed. the us military has to change as well. there is a line about the lessons of history. after world war ii we were never going to have another war. then the korean war. after that, we weren't going to have another war, we could do it with special forces. then vietnam's. we were never going to have to commit to wars. then we had desert storm. all we needed was a power. —— air power. every time we have believed that you did not have to have the fundamentals of warfare, we have paid the price for not having military capabilities.
i am ready for efficiencies, for the renewed emphasis on the asia—pacific region, which is very expensive. if we are truly interested in strengthening our position in asia and the pacific, we have an expensive force. i will tell you now i have travelled the world. i have talked to leaders around the world and in the middle east. they say they believe america is weakening. that is their view. i do not think that is necessarily the case but leading from behind is not something the us should ever do. who is going to lead from in front? it is interesting you put it that way. i do not think that view of american decline is necessarily the case. you have had a long career, with ups and downs. you have always tried to be at the centre of debates on how america should behave in the world.
when you look at the us today, do you accept america has to change? and frankly do roaring in its horns, toa and frankly do roaring in its horns, to a certain extent, in the way it relates to the rest of the world? —— drawing in. if this means we would withdraw to fortress america, i do not agree. every time we have tried that one, as we did before world war ii, we paid a heavy price. maybe it means not trying to police the world. in the way that we have seen in the last decade. i think what the us has to recognise in the 21st century is we are in a multipolar world. we've seen the rise of china and india as other superpowers. china especially. we will no longer be the dominant world power that we were for a long time following world war ii.
that does not mean isolationism, and by the way there is a strong amount of that in my own party, and it does not mean withdrawal. it means the use of military power but also understanding that we have a relationship in the world which is different to the one in the 20th century. i believe we are the greatest force for good in the 21st century. we have to lend it out. thank you for coming on hardtalk. thanks for the spirited conversation. hello, good morning. fewer showers and more sunshine on saturday but it still didn't
feel very warm. this is how we ended the day at leigh on sea, shown by one of our weather watchers, but already those skies have changed. everything is coming in from the atlantic, you would expect it to be a bit warmer but that may not be the case. 0vernight, temperatures not quite as low, but it will feel quite chilly, i think, during sunday, because it is going to be dull and it is going to be a bit rainy as well. mainly starting dry for eastern scotland and eastern england, but we will see the rain pushing east. quite heavy at times, especially for wales and the south—west. improving and brightening up in northern ireland in the afternoon, breaks coming out
of the irish sea later. quite a blustery day later in the day. the wettest weather in the south—east. 17 perhaps, but only 12 or 13 in scotland even though the rain might not amount to much. typically it all clears away as things start to get dark. we see the skies clearing overnight. a few showers across the northern isles of the uk, and a bit of a breeze as well. not too cold, despite those temperatures in the day. monday, bank holiday for most, and a much better day. still a blustery westerly wind, with showers blowing in for the western and northern half of the uk. further south and east it is probably going to be largely dry. with some sunshine it will be warmer, significantly so in scotland, low 20s in the south—east of england and east anglia. in between these two weather systems on monday and tuesday, this one arrives into the north—west. we'll keep our eyes on this developing system of low pressure. we don't really see the rain getting going until later in north scotland and northern ireland.
also, good spells of sunshine and probably a bit warmer, temperatures into the mid—20s in the south—east. a few showers not far away on the other side of the channel, we saw that high pressure and that could arrive and push some showers north up the east side of england overnight. a lot of uncertainty about the forecast on wednesday. that weather front is moving in from the atlantic and that could be a bit more dominant. most of the showers and rains steering away from east anglia and the south—east. this is bbc world news. our top stories: john mccain, the us senator and former presidential candidate, has died. senator mccain was 81, a vietnam war veteran who'd been taken prisoner. he'd been diagnosed with a brain tumour last year. tributes have been paid across the political world, led by presidents trump and obama, who said mccain was an american hero. hello and welcome to bbc news.